By / Stockton University
Galloway, N.J.- Stockton University students standing in the middle of Delaware Avenue watched smoke lifting from a charred forest floor, burned intentionally by a prescribed fire. In just a few months, the blackened ground will be green with newly generated growth, and the effects of the prescription will kindle a healthy forest ecosystem.
Year five of Stockton’s forest management plan called for burning in nine experimental plots. The New Jersey Forest Fire Service conducted the recent burn, and Matthew Olson, assistant professor of Environmental Science, will work with students to study and measure the ecological consequences.
A long-term experiment that burns plots at different intervals will help researchers understand how fire frequency impacts trees, vegetation, ecology and wildlife. Some plots are burned as frequently as every year, while others are only burned every 15-16 years.
Robert Williams, of Pine Creek Forestry, wrote Stockton’s forest management plan with George Zimmermann, professor emeritus of Environmental Science.